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Global South Powers in Transition

A Comparative Analysis of Mexico and South Africa

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Edited By Deon Geldenhuys and Humberto González

Employing a novel collaborative transnational methodology, this ground-breaking book presents the first comprehensive and systematic comparison of Mexico and South Africa. Although geographically, historically and diplomatically far apart, Mexico and South Africa are ambitious and influential powers in the Global South and also experience wide-ranging domestic transitions. A binational team of 26 researchers from the two countries, all specialists in their respective disciplines, probe the transitions that Mexico and South Africa are undergoing in areas such as socio-cultural diversity, domestic politics, economic development, labour dynamics, social and territorial inequality, food security, crime and violence, and foreign relations. The detailed country studies allow the authors to identify striking similarities but also profound differences between the two societies. In so doing, the book helps to explain Mexico and South Africa to each other but also to the world at large.

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INTRODUCTION

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Humberto González and Deon Geldenhuys

The idea that germinated into this edited volume originated in Medellin, Colombia, in 2010 when we participated in a conference of the international RISC (Regional Integration and Social Cohesion) research consortium. RISC had from its inception in 2007 brought researchers from a rich diversity of disciplines and countries together at its academic meetings. And so it was at RISC’s Medellin conference when the two of us – one a Mexican anthropologist and the other a South African political scientist – discovered that our two societies displayed not only profound differences but also striking similarities. What is more, the two nations were largely unknown to each other and hence oblivious of what set our societies apart and what we had in common. We sensed an academic opportunity to explain the two nations to each other and the world beyond. At a subsequent RISC conference in Mexico City we fleshed out our still vague idea of some kind of comparative study of Mexico and South Africa. It was after this second encounter that the name of our embryonic research project – and the title of this book – was formulated: Global South powers in transition: A comparative analysis of Mexico and South Africa.

The task we set ourselves was to uncover and explain the similarities and dissimilarities between Mexico and South Africa through systematic comparative analyses. More ambitiously, we hoped that through our findings the two societies could learn from each other in identifying...

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